Skyward Swords music is not as Skyward as we had hoped
Posted on 10/18/2012 by Chris Weil
When you listen to some tunes from the old Zelda games, you hear a distinct and loveable tune. You find yourself humming along to the songs later on, and then whistling them. Some of the most memorable parts of the game come from the music alone. The End Credits themes are always fantastic and memorable, and the over-world themes are always full of life, and buzzing with excitement. However, not all of this is true in Skyward Sword. The over-world theme from Skyward Sword sounded like it should have been some kind of opening to a Star Trek movie, or some other movie about space. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice tune, it's just not fit to be the grand over-world theme. Just take the Stalfos min-boss theme. It sounds like a waltz more than a boss theme. It clearly doesn't fit being a battle song. This was true with a lot of other songs as well, just not the fact that they sounded like waltzes.
Full article after the break...
Remember a few E3's ago when we got the first trailer of the game, and it had a tune that was a bonus track on the Twilight Princess Soundtrack? Now that tune wasn't exactly something you could run around, or in this case fly around a field in, but then the next year we got another tune. The Ballad of the Goddess. No one said exactly where this tune would fit in with the game, but it was clear it would be important nonetheless. A lot of people could envision themselves flying along to that theme, because it was full of life and sound. It was a memorable tune, and it was certainly much better than the composition for the over-world.
I'm not saying that the whole soundtrack for Skyward Sword sucked, I'm just saying some of the themes could have been better. There were some really nice tunes in there, like the End Credits theme. That was fantastic. Also, Groose's theme is definitely a memorable one, and there are many others. Some more memorable or better than others. When you look at the soundtrack for Ocarina of Time, or Twilight Princess, even Minish Cap, all of the these have a distinct sound, and reflect the place you're in. I feel that in Skyward Sword, a lot of this reflection was lost. Take the cloud tops theme from Minish Cap. You can hear a really nice bass line, some really original chords, which makes it a great tune overall. Then, if you take theme from Inside The Sandship, it seems void of a lot of instruments. This same thing happened with a lot of other tunes too. If you take the skyloft theme, it's nice, slow, and relaxing, but it feels like a market theme. It doesn't have the excitement of what a theme for a city should be. You can take the Hyrule Town theme from Ocarina of Time, and it has this speed and excitement of being in a big city, whereas it does not have that feel in Skyward Sword.
I can understand that some challenges with this came from using an orchestra. It's difficult to create unique memorable pieces with an orchestra, because a lot of what you can do has already been done. If they had done it the traditional way, and used sound-fonts, and MIDI files to create the soundtrack, it might have been better and more original. For example, the final boss fight theme. If you haven't beaten the game yet, just skip to the next paragraph. Demise was a tough boss, and he meant business. The final boss theme for Super Mario Galaxy 2 was fantastic, so why wasn't this one as good? Demise's theme did not do him justice, as it was done by the lower toned orchestral instruments to create the feeling of despair, but was also probably slow to create more despair, but it just didn't work.
In the next Zelda game, no one knows yet if they'll continue using a real orchestra, or just advanced sound-fonts. It certainly could be interesting, given the current rumours that are floating around as to what they would do. My guess is that, since this is speculated to be their largest project ever, they would go for the orchestra. I would also guess, that since there was a lot of negative feedback on Skyward Sword's soundtrack, that they might get more people involved in making it, and give Koji Kondo a larger role for the soundtrack. Maybe he didn't do too much on the Skyward Sword soundtrack, because he was currently working on the majority of the soundtrack for this new game? I guess we'll have to wait to find that out.
MusicStudent on 10/18/2012 2:51:17 PM I for one, definitely disagree. There is a very distinct style to the music of Skyward Sword. To a degree, it varies more than the other games did. However, this is because of the separation of the worlds. The other Zelda games have this too. Gerudo Valley in Ocarina of Time sounds like it could be from a completely different game (if you don't count the similar sounds from the MIDIs produced). Looking at the themes themselves, both the Overworld and the Stalfos themes fit perfectly to the atmosphere of the game. The overworld uses a variety of strings and brass instruments that give the overall feel of lightness needed for the flying. It sounds nothing like any Sci-Fi movie theme (although you may be thinking more of the John Williams Superman theme, which is the same feel of flying that Link needs for Skyward Sword). The Stalfos theme, likewise, uses the instruments to make an atmosphere. They use heavy percussion and bass along with a frantic sounding string and woodwind part giving the on-your-toes feel that the situation calls for. The style of music is different from other Zelda games, much like the themes in Wind Waker are so drastically different. There are no complaints about that though...
Overall, I would personally say that Skyward Sword has a fantastic soundtrack, and it is easily on par with that of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Twilight Princess.
Someone on 10/18/2012 4:14:30 PM I agree with MusicStudent.
Mahboi on 10/18/2012 4:17:33 PM Hmmm. I agree with you in some ways. The writing of the music seems much more geared towards ambience, even compared to other Zelda games. It's not the type of music you get an OST for. The music seems to be made "simpler" on purpose as the focus shifts to Link and the gameplay itself. The result is that while on its own the music sounds kinda bland and even unfitting (like the miniboss theme and Demise's) it still achieves what it set out to do: make you feel different emotions, combined with the graphics and gameplay. That, and the fact that the music is orchestrated, actually makes for a very good aural experience.
This trend is in, well, every Zelda game, but more so in the DS games and definitely Twilight Princess. Wind Waker had many areas with -no- music (many of the islands), which is a different issue entirely.
Fizzle on 10/18/2012 9:53:24 PM I think the Stalfos theme is quite clearly a battle theme, and a very good one at that. I think the issue you're having stems from the fact that it is a battle theme that was clearly designed with Dreadfuse in mind moreso than the regular Stalfos. It definitely gives a feel of swashbuckling, pirate adventure, and wouldn't of been out of place in The Wind Waker.
As for Demise's theme, it struck chords of some of the greatest dramatic music in Slayers NEXT, an anime with an outstanding fantasy orchestral score, so I find it hard to fault it either.
The dungeon music in the game is also FAR superior to the barely existent themes in Twilight Princess, and the virtually nonexistent themes in the DS games. Sadly however, none of the soundtracks of the 3D games will ever come close to any of the 2D adventures, if only because they simply refuse to have decent dungeon music and always focus on ambiance. Just one of the unfortunate side effects of the slower 3D Zeldas, I suppose.
I do agree that the Sky music was a bit lacking however. Not awful, but a bit too close to Mario Galaxy for my liking, which the rest of the score mostly avoided.
Also, just want to mention that the boss theme used for Moldarach is one of the greatest in the series.
Sparkles_a23 on 10/18/2012 10:26:25 PM I disagree with all of your points,I actually think an orchestra sounds that much nicer. And the Stalfo's miniboss there is amasing, it gives the feeling of fighting somebody tricky. The dungeons, especially the Lanaryu ones, were good.
And, although I love TP, the only music that sounds amasing, is Midna's Lament.
of course, thats just my opinion.
Twister92 on 10/18/2012 11:27:14 PM I agree with them using an orchestra. I feel Zelda music is made just for that! But we are in agreement about the soundtrack as a whole - MUCH of it was lacking in general, according to my opinion. There were some excellent musical moments in the game, such as the Temple's Descent and the Isle of Songs, but the majority of the soundtrack was rather...dull.
I will love on the end credits music to no end, though. That was probably one of the best ending themes ever in the series. In the buildup to their use of the main Hero's Theme two-and-a-half minutes into the song, they perfectly captured a certain distinct sound that I feel sets Zelda music apart from all other music. I can't describe it, you just have to hear it and feel it. Other than the ending music being little repetitive in my opinion, the credits song was simply amazing.
Matt on 10/19/2012 11:38:03 PM I stopped reading when you said the Stalfos theme was a waltz, when it
isn't in 3/4. That's pretty much the one and only characteristic of a waltz.
Mario on 10/20/2012 11:41:46 AM I agree. And believe me, I always remember the music from games and rate them based on how good the music was. Some songs were good in skyward sword. but listen to the eldin volcano song... it sounds like in a bad game. faron woods sounded wierd too. But I have to say that the music in the desert was pretty good and ballad of the godess was one of the memorable zelda songs.
Larke12 on 10/20/2012 4:11:47 PM Aside from the fact Chris doesn't know what a waltz is, my take on the music of Skyward Sword is split. The music itself is absolutely fantastic, the orchestra and all makes the music a top notch soundtrack on my list. My issue, though, is that the music as /Zelda/ music is not that great. When I'm flying around those skies, I was expecting something much more Zelda-esque. I know it's a "different" world, but my attachment to the Zelda series includes the iconic field music that strikes that oh so loved chord in my heart. Yes, the music is unparalleled. No, it is not what I was expecting from an orchestrated Zelda game. I must also say that I hope to see some more influence on future Zelda soundtracks from the SotG tours. Now, THAT is what I expected Skyward Sword to sound like... Nothing. Short. Of. Epic.
Tapza on 10/20/2012 5:39:13 PM I agree, Skyward Sword's soundtrack was definitely a disappointment. It was Zelda and it was orchestrated so I thought it would be one of the greatest video game scores ever. Super Mario Galaxies had amazing music, so Zelda should be even better, right? Well, not quite. Some of the songs are nice, but overall it didn't leave that big of an impression on me. Sure it sounds fine, it is orchestrated after all, but the compositions themselves I didn't think were anything special, save for a few exceptions. The sad thing is, the lacking soundtrack is actually one of the more minor complaints I have with this game.
Chevsapher on 10/22/2012 7:51:48 AM ....wait a second. Skyward Sword has one of the best soundtracks for a Wii game I've come across. The purpose of a game's soundtrack is to complement the atmosphere and the gameplay, and SS's soundtrack does that well. I think it would be weird if the Skyloft music was full of excitement, like you want, because Skyloft is a little village up in the sky and it's not exactly exciting. The residents and the general atmosphere are laid-back and relaxed. The same idea goes with the dungeons- does the music feel or lacking of instruments? That's because the dungeons are creepy and empty except for enemies, and the music is reflecting that. Also, I feel that it's unfair to compare the entirety of Skyward Sword's soundtrack to the best songs from older games. There are plenty of unmemorable tunes from previous Zelda games.
Chris Weil on 10/23/2012 5:17:26 AM I'm sorry I don't know what a Waltz properly is, I just said "It sounds like a waltz" I never said it /Was/ a waltz. And also in the article, I tried several times to explain that this music just didn't fit being in a Zelda game. for example "Don't get me wrong, it's a nice tune" but Sorry about the confusion.
Chris Weil on 10/24/2012 7:14:26 AM Even though I have the comment right above this...After reading through all the comments, and knowing that no one will actually get back to the article to read this, I have to say, I'm impressed. There are people who agree that the soundtrack was a letdown, and those who feel it was the best thing ever. I think it really depended on what the expectations were. Tapza up there a bit and I were both expecting something from SMG2, but anyhow, I do agree with a lot of you. The orchestra did sound nice, and the soundtrack was good, it wasn't meant for a Zelda game. I felt the scores were not as good as usual, and they just didn't capture a lot of the moments in the game. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I'm glad you all shared yours with me. Thanks! c:
triforcepower73 on 10/26/2012 8:13:48 PM Duh, demise's battle theme isn't as good as super mario galaxy 2's! If they did an incredibly epic, intense track then the next stage of the battle where it does get incredibly epic and intense wouldn't seem so! But if you do listen to the theme for the second stage of the battle with him, it beats smg2's by light years! Here it is, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR-rX20UCHE.
triforcepower73 on 10/26/2012 8:16:24 PM "...it does get incredibly epic and intense wouldn't seem so!" It wouldn't seem so epic and intense I meant.
yohanbone on 11/1/2012 3:08:39 PM "It's It's difficult to create unique memorable pieces with an orchestra" I'm sorry, just no. What the actual compositions are like aside, using real instruments does not limit creativity at all. It makes it a darn sight harder to record and manipulate. But a lot of older Zelda tracks were emulating real instruments anyway.
Dynamic Environmental sounds. on 4/2/2013 11:49:12 PM Why don't they make dynamic environment music like how in Donkey Kong 64 there is an overworld theme which the instruments change depending if you go in a cave/underwater.etc.
If you are underwater the world's theme will switch to a harp with sound effects sounding like you're really underwater and when you go in a cave everything echos.
They could do that with SFX too where in an echo area if you are too loud you will disturb creatures from a deep slumber and will bite you where as if you are quiet you can slip right on by.
The final outcome is up to the player to decide how to progress.
Bashthearticle on 4/2/2013 11:52:43 PM It seems people come here just to bash the article which makes me wonder why they come here if they are going to rip the Skyword Sword article apart like music student did and take the guts out.
k on 7/3/2013 1:27:13 AM I agree with the article. The soundtrack wasn't as epic as other Zelda games. Mostly, there are happy background samples with no choirs and no catchy melodies.